Saturday, January 10, 2009

Mischief (1985)

Directed by Mel Damski
Starring Kelly Preston, Catherine Mary Stewart, Jami Gertz, Doug McKeon
Rated R
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"Girls don't have nuts. So they're fascinated by 'em."

Simple story: It's 1960(ish) in Nelsonville, a picture-perfect American suburb where the streets are so clean you can eat off 'em, and the ugliest girl in town is Jami Gertz. Jonathan (Doug McKeon) is your average teenage nebbish type, satisfied with worshipping creamy blonde goddess Marilyn (a 23 year old Kelly Preston, looking impossibly good) from afar. But then bad-boy motorbike kid Gene (Chris Nash) moves in next door. Gene ran into some trouble back in Chicago, where he was tossed out of school for various pranks and infractions, so dad has moved them here, to tiny town USA, to start over. Gene really doesn't want any trouble, so he decides to channel his lady-killer energy into getting Jon hooked up with the girl of his dreams. No easy feat, given the kid's predilection for popping uncomfortable public boners whenever Marilyn's around.

Gene's first bit of advice is to have Jon fly down a hill on his bicycle and slam it into some dude's parked DeSoto. He does, flips over, and lands on the sidewalk with blood pouring out of his mouth. Who is this Gene anyway, the fuckin' antichrist? But just then, Marilyn comes sauntering by, finds our injured hero, and attends to his wounds. He takes advantage of the situation and cops a feel, feigning delirium. Both fellas decide this was a rousing success. And I thought getting laid in the 80's was tough.

Young love is always complicated. Gene digs sparkle-eyed Bunny (Night of the Comet's Catherine Mary Stewart), but she dates Kenny (DW Brown), the town asshole. Jon is nuts for Marilyn, but she's hotsy-totsy for Gene. Gene, who wears popped collars and hair grease, assures Jon that he's gonna work all this out, so he sets up a double-date to the drive-in, where they all watch Rebel Without a Cause. As in every film ever made about this era, Kenny the asshole shows up, douses Jon with soda, and challenges Gene to a game of chicken.
"Just like in the movie!" enthuses Marilyn.
Nobody dies, but Gene gets his ass kicked by his dad (the Stepfather himself, Terry O'Quinn) and Kenny vows revenge. So, that went well.

That's pretty much their last patch of trouble, though. Shit works out. Jonathan, amazingly, starts dating Kelly fucking Preston, and Gene - the most benign hood since the Fonz - somehow ends up with Bunny. Cue the 'having fun together' montage to Ivory Joe Hunter's Since I Met You Baby (Freddy Fender's version is better, but sadly historically inaccurate). Everybody's happy (besides that cunt Kenny, of course), playing basketball together, riding horses, making know, this town has everything, from a drive-in to stables, and it's got to be the most racially integrated town in America for 1960. Everybody gets along in this Nelsonville, and there doesn't appear to be any poverty or race riots or drugs, and even the boner kid gets to bed a fully-flowered Kelly Preston. Is this what our parents are always going on about? Is this what the early 60's were really like? No wonder they never shut up about it.

Anyway, the sex scene. Blink and you'll miss it, but Kelly shows full bush. Jonathan forgets to bring a rubber, so he says - and tell me you haven't said this/heard this too, at least once:
"I'll just put it in a little. That way, nothing can happen."
Of course, he does not pull out like he's supposed to. Afterwards, Marilyn mopes.
"I'm sorry," Jonathan says. "I didn't mean to ruin your first time."
"Honestly, Jonathan," Marilyn says, rolling her eyes, "I never said it was my first time."

Buncha stuff happens after that. I should probably let you see it all for yourself. I will reveal this much, though: Jami Gertz takes off her glasses at the end. See that, she was fuckin' hot the whole time.

Initially, I was skeptical about Mischief, and when I say initially, I mean in 1985. 70's teens were into the 50's and 60's stuff because of Happy Days and Grease, but 80's kids were into the now, man. Parachute pants and Sigue Sigue Sputnik. "Fuck 1960", said the 1985 version of me, and soundly rejected Mischief, choosing instead to see Reanimator for the 57th time. Now I'm 40 and I realize that nothing was cool in the 80's, and the 60's - if we are going by Ohio Express, Twiggy, JFK, and Nancy Sinatra - were actually pretty cool, after all. And Mischief, even if it is a very fairytale version of the era - is very cool. Preston is the only celebrity skin on deck, but no matter, because all the performances are solid, the production design is flawless, and the soundtrack is smoking: Buddy Holly, Eddie Cochran, Chuck Berry, Gene Vincent...and Tab Hunter! Awesome. Director Damski...don't worry about that guy. He's still plenty busy doing TV stuff. Kelly Preston married a Scientologist (gross) but was in From Dusk Til Dawn (cool) and Metalstorm 3D, (awesome) so whatever. Jami Gertz is around. Catherine Mary Stewart really should've been a cult star, given Night of the Comet and this one, but she's pretty much avoided genre work ever since. If you're looking for her, she's probably shooting a Canadian TV movie.

The dudes...I don't really pay attention to dudes.

In summation: I got to see Kelly Preston's vagina today. Thanks, Mel Damski!

Availability: Mischief is available on DVD from Anchor Bay. It's also available for rental from Netflix.
Buy Mischief on Amazon.
-Ken McIntyre

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